The Venus Fly Trap

Alex Novak (vocals) - Tony Booker (guitar) - Dave Freak (percussion + vocals)
Chris Evans (bass) - John Novak (Guitar) - Tim Perkins (violin, guitar + keyboard)

Recorded at Thatched Cottage (UK) - 1987/88
Produced by VFT with Marc and Davey
© Venus Fly Trap 2002

Rust red blood, iron horse in railyard earth, a shot of red eye, tombstones closed. Hollywood (Babylon) rewrites frontier history, the gunfight at the ok corral, no cowboys in Nashville. Kerouac, hits the road Jack. The diamond as big as the Ritz, flappers, gangsters, prohibition, everybody do the ... crash. Inflation, money carried in wheel barrows, history repeats itself "Stop the City".Isolationism, appeasement, the Maginot line, Lebensraum, Blitzkrieg !
Paris during the occupation, a jewish theatre owner produces plays from the basement. Yalta, the world divided into spheres of influence. Czech radio operators cry for help! Soho, pornography, neon sex beat light, the rise of Islam and the price of oil, Arabic hieroglyphs in the city. In the Western desert, the wrecking ground, into the city of light, slot machines, casinos, Las Vegas. Whistling dark melodies of broken dreams. The post-atomic apocalypse, a noisy dream, a distant planet, the satellite of love, the sound of the new dawn, we are all stars.

"As dark as intelligent pop ever gets ... is a rich concoction totally out of keeping with indiepop, but expected to compete on just such a farcical level. Only a year in existence, the band's compelling mixture of sublimely irritating lyrics and cutting guitar has already seen them snapping up a French deal ..."
(Mick Mercer, Melody Maker - 1988)

"Giging alongside the likes of Jazz Butcher, Chills, Tom Verlaine and the Mission. Dark vocals, schizophrenic guitar bass lines entrap you in psychedelia and grate you with feedback"
(House of Dolls - 1988)

"Venus in Furs ? Heroin ? I quite happily attribute this Northampton quartet with a wry sense of humour ... a feedback assisted, rigidly executed rock manoeuvre"
(Sounds - 1988)

"Box clever here, a hypnotically rumbling tune unraveling out of a bright cacophony, some clattering song in the catacombs"
(Melody Maker - 1988)

"Here to saturate the thrill circuits with a sound that plays havoc with reality from Joy Division bass lines to Doors atmospherics. From Venus in Blue Jeans to Venus in Furs and beyond."
(Hot Press - 1989)

"Hailed by some as the first interesting bi-product of Northampton since Bauhaus, Alan Moore and Carlsberg. The crude drum box, the haunting chords, the goth imagery and Alex Novak a vocalist lost in time, when Ian Curtis walked the earth, and Pil were still careering."
(Andrew Collis, NME - 1989)

"They make despair infectious. Now this may be down to needlepoint guitar working overtime ... or is the way Molotov cocktails smash and splash across the strings, a V for Vendetta version of television."
(Melody Maker - 1989)

"Strange collision of Colourbox and the Cramps"
(Offbeat - 1989)

This collection, covering their 1987 - 1989 period, has the piquant edge that still remains in their music, and acts as a fine reminder of what happened when Punk grew into Indie, and some chose to embrace the intelligent darker strains and trains of thought.

It’s interesting how ‘Shadow Whispers Mecca’ still sounds finely carved, and lean, just as - perhaps tellingly - the feel behind ‘(I Get) Flowers’ is straight out of Gang Of 4’s neurotic scrapbook. ‘Morphine’ is suitably dilated and tense, and in ‘Hazy Figure’ you can’t help but wonder if they’re on a Velvets drip-feed. The funniest bits come from the basic drum machine always sounding ready to blow a fuse, particularly during ‘Desolation Railway’ and ‘Catalyst’ but you don’t laugh at what is quite a cute undercarriage because there’ll be some corpulent bass for company of a strange surge of diluted adrenaline.

‘Violins & Violence’ should sound pretty dated, with samples and repetition, but it has enough musical guile to make the torpid progress heady with enigma, and there are only little peaks of energy in ‘closing’ track ‘Up There’, but it remains non-committal rather than euphoric, and it’s that weirdness which makes these songs work, as they have a detached frisson of bandaged hedonism. You get the extra tracks straight after, with original versions of ‘Morphine’, ‘Catalyst’ and ‘Desolation Railway’, plus a short live, spluttering punky electronic racket in ‘Step Inside’.

This hasn’t got the strength in depth of later compilations. The vocals are genuinely lamenting, rather than lamentable, but while the music froths gently with plentiful ideas and subtle twists the vocals simply cannot match or enhance it.

(Mick Mercer - February 15th 2003)